Infinite Stratos: Athena

Chapter 2: The Jabbers


========== Beyond Earth's atmosphere, Outer Space ==========

A lone satellite orbits around the planet as its multiple powerful optical cameras zoom in upon the Infinite Stratos Academy and the surrounding prefectures, including Tokyo. Under remote controlled from a certain individual whose name is flashed on the satellite's interface as "RYAN, CLAUSE". Colored in shades of iron grey, the satellite also has an insignia of the Sun help up by a pair of hands imprinted on the side of its hull along with the word "Hyperion Co." below it.

The words reflect vibrant gold shine from the Sun as the surface turns towards the star, looming above the Academy in an apparent act of obsessive observation. The satellite has been set to remain in stationary orbit over Japan to eye every single movement on the mainland especially the Infinite Stratos Academy that is marked on the satellite's interface with a blood-red rotating target reticule.

The hull of the satellite is littered with scratch marks caused by repeated collisions of wrecked pieces from the other satellites that were destroyed by the White Knight IS during its debut. The Hyperion satellite itself wasn't particularly safe from the White Knight during then, as indicated with a grazed particle beam mark across part of its hull which suggests a near-miss.

Nevertheless, such degree of damage does not hinder or even disturb the satellite's operations. It resumes its orbit and maintains an overview on the IS Academy while more bits and scraps of other destroyed satellites bounce off its massive hull.


========== Oamishirasato, Chiba Prefecture ==========

Within the living quarters of the Katami Dojo, inside the dimly-lit confinement of Tsurugi's bedroom, she sits on the side of her bed with her hair down covering half of her face as she holds a polished wooden picture frame.

"It's been years… Where are you now…?"

Her soft, tearful whisper disturbs the silence inside the room and she gently taps her index finger on the picture that's obscured by the darkness of the room. Yearning emotions swell in her heart as she recalls past memories of her spending her time with Inami during their childhood days.

"I want to see you again… I know you are still alive, somewhere."

Sudden light knocks on the door startles her.

"Tsurugi, it's already morning. You need to submit your application form today, right?"

Tsurugi turns to a thin stack of papers on the small table next to her bed. They are application forms for an educational institution but the name of the school is covered by a dome-shaped paperweight containing a small-scaled orbital launch complex, complete with a mini space-shuttle standing nose-up on a launch pad and a small plaque engraved with the word "TANEGASHIMA".

"Yes, mother! I'll be out in a minute!"

"Well don't rush it, dear. Your father will be driving you there."

Tsurugi beams a smile and jumps off the bed, placing the wooden picture frame on the small bedside table and pulling the curtains open. In an instant, the daylight illuminates the dull and dim bedroom into a bright, colorful one with most of the fabrics in her room colored in various shades of blue. The light also bathes the picture frame which then reveals to be holding a photo of Inami piggybacking her with cheerful, heartwarming smiles on their faces.

Still dressed in striped pajamas, Tsurugi takes a towel from her closet and turns to look at the photo as she opens the door, growing a small smile as she leaves the room to head for the showers.


========== Mount Nokogiri, Futtsu, Chiba Prefecture ==========

"She's Tsurugi."

Gerald turns to Inami as he confesses the name of the person in the picture he kept in his room. Held in Inami's hand is a piece of paper that he found under the photo frame, the paper which Gerald has apparently scribbled with the short message "Your girlfriend? See me at the observation platform tomorrow."

Inami blushes lightly upon reading what was written, fully intended to be a humor jab from the Praxidike leader seeing how he's been active in his daily in-room physical trainings. He clearly remembers the last time he saw Tsurugi despite it being almost six years ago.

"Tsurugi Katami… That is her name."

"Katami…?"

While Gerald doesn't show it, the name sounded familiar to him. Inami nods at his prompt while still harboring embarrassment from having his personal picture seen by Gerald, the last person he would want seeing the photo. He holds no doubt that Gerald would have figured out how valuable she is to him and even it being on a personal level, she's more of a sibling figure to him than a girlfriend as Gerald's humor note would imply.

"Don't get it wrong though… She's not my girlfriend, she's… closer than that."

"I see."

Gerald looks back to the view outside. He remembers how he initially thought Inami would be all alone seeing as he's an orphan when he was brought into Praxidike without leaving much notice to the Katami family that he left behind. During then, the idea that Inami would actually be adopted into another family did not cross his mind as bringing Inami in was a given instruction by another individual whose name promptly projects into his mind.

'Athena… This can't be a coincidence, right…?'

Gerald shakes off the thoughts. All he knows is that the ambiguous Athena has explicitly chose Inami as the vanguard and the primary user for the Minerva powered armor. Yet, Tsurugi's name remains oddly familiar but Gerald could not recall why it is so. Not wanting to show that he's troubled, he sweeps the thoughts aside trusting that he will find out soon enough given Inami's connection with her.

"Bastion-san?"

"…Thanks for sharing. You may leave now, Arisawa."

For someone who has established himself as the leader of a renegade organization, Inami is confused at his sudden change of mood. Earlier, he recalls how nervous he was when he was about to step into the observation platform thinking that the Praxidike head would be giving him an earful for keeping such picture, not that he would have any discernible reasons to do so to begin with. Yet again, he was greeted with the opposite; seeing a usually strict person suddenly turning soft and curious of photo which he thought would have passed as a trivial matter.


========== Infinite Stratos Academy ==========

It is only a day after the surprise attack from the monstrous Golem yet the illustrious institution manages to uphold its image; the battle arena that was infiltrated by the drone is almost restored. Only a mere section of its arena walls missing as a replacement piece is inserted into place with the help of a few Academy personnel using the training Infinite Stratos unit, Uchigane; designed as a grey-colored, IS-scaled samurai armor along with twin shoulder armor plating suspended over the pilot's shoulders.

Aside from the restoration works, everything else is intact with barely any signs of damages to suggest that a violent battle just took place and most of the Academy is completely empty as the students are out for an off-campus vacation.


Meanwhile within the depths of the Academy's basement is a secretive base of operations belonging to the Academy itself and access to it is only given to a few the school's top-ranked instructors. The infrastructure of the base takes form of a geodesic dome with tessellating hexagons similar to the shapes of the energy barrier projected by an IS unit as a defensive feature. Suspended holographic screens are neatly arranged around the room along with the main massive hologram screen towards the opposite end of the room.

The main screen shows a wireframe overview of the IS Academy and the neighboring Chiba Prefecture, showing two identical red blips with one located over the Academy while the other remained stationary at the southern tip of Ichihara, accompanied with another white-colored blip that is marked with an "Unknown" indicator. It is then apparent that the screen is showing radar detection records from the previous day when the Golem attacked.

The two instructors in the room, Maya Yamada and Chifuyu Orimura, both being Homeroom Teachers of Class One with the former being an assistant, are surprised by the revelation that another similar Golem unit was present on the day of the attack and paying very little attention to the unknown blip.

"I knew it… there were two of them."

"You knew about this, Maya?"

Maya isn't certain as to what she should reply. Back when the Golem attacked the arena grounds, it was detected on the Academy's early-warning radar system but the second unit did not show up until she was called out to assist with the threat, even that was just a brief beep and the other blip merely flashed for a fraction of a second which Maya passed as a probable glitch caused from the ongoing havoc on the surface.

"Not quite… Before we left to assist the students, the second blip only popped for like a split second. It didn't show up again after that so I thought it was just a glitch. Guess I was wrong…"

"Don't worry about it. Then again, we should probably send some of the security troopers to check out the area. Get Aegis One and Two in the air and have them scout the last known location of the second signal."

"On it, Sensei."

Chifuyu's attention shifts to the white unknown blip that's within the vicinity. Though her main concerns lie in the hostile Golem drones, seeing another smaller unit moving around the second Golem blip as though they were engaging in battle does not sit well with her too.

"And while they're at it, Maya, get them to look around for any signs that would give us an idea what that unknown unit might be."


========== Mount Nokogiri, Futtsu, Chiba Prefecture ==========

The day once again enters the dusk of evening with the Sun descending towards the horizon. Within Praxidike base's hangar, Jinrai is examining some machinery and what appears to be a long broad blade arranged on a long metal table while behind him are two construction cages; one is holding the Minerva and is plugged to a portable computer terminal while the other is completely empty without any forms of external connection. Standing next to the empty cage is a container that is holding the dismantled armor parts from the previous Golem.

Immediately next to the construction cage appears to be a pile of aerodynamic parts, colored in shades of black with blue highlights. The parts had already been precisely arranged such that they resemble a flight unit. However unlike the long, slender Longboard, this flight unit appears to be shorter in fuselage length but overall relatively wider than it, complete with twin platforms on top of the main body and four gun muzzles lined in pairs on each side of the main body's front.

The broad blade on the table though appears to be completely different and in no way related to the secondary flight unit in the works. Rather, this equipment appears to be a long sword with a massive, translucent gold-tinted, broad blade that has only one sharp edge. The opposite is lined with six exhaust muzzles and each muzzle holds a scaled-down version of the Minerva's particle pulse-jet. One of the muzzles is open with Jinrai tinkering with the pulse-jet that was supposed to be placed in said muzzle.

The entrance door to the hangar opens and Gerald walks in. Despite countless of times he has seen Jinrai awake so late to work on equipments for the Minerva, he's still surprised before noticing the broad blade on the table. Jinrai on the other hand, raises his head at Gerald with a smirk to greet him as he approaches the table.

"What are those?"

"Special equipment for the Minerva, they are part of my list of project backlogs that I have for the unit. What you're seeing here on this table is the blade component for the Type-Two Buster Sword."

Gerald realizes a skip in the numbering.

"Two? What about the 'One'?"

Jinrai points a thumb over his shoulder to the back, directing Gerald's attention to the arranged pieces of a flight platform unit where he notices its differences compared to the Longboard flight platform that they're currently using to allow sustained flight for the Minerva. He also notices gun muzzle-like protrusions lined along front side of the unit's main body.

"Type-One CSFP, which is short for Combat Support Flight Platform. The CSFP beats out the Longboard in all aspects along with the addition of particle guns, which are a slightly more powerful than the Minerva's forearm particle guns. It's not yet ready though… I haven't installed its secondary function yet."

"What's the Type-Two's story?"

"The Minerva's beam sabers are much too powerful for their kind and they chew up a lot of power when used extensively. The Type-Two is the don't-use-too-much-power alternative to the beam sabers."

Gerald nods off at the layman terms with a slight smirk. While it's a mere humor term, Jinrai explicitly states the Buster Sword's positive attributes despite deliberately exaggerating about his equipment at times. He points his thumb to the pulse-jet muzzles lined along the back of the blade while raising it for Gerald to have a better look.

"Each of these muzzles contains a smaller version of the Minerva's particle pulse-jets but given the relative size of the Type-Two, having six of these pulse-jets will deliver a near-instantaneous strike upon anything it swings upon. The blade itself is made out of titanium alloy laced with fibers of tungsten carbide, easily awarding this weapon with a nine on the Mohs scale."

"Anti-beam features…?"

"Layers of refractive coating on the broad sides of the blade saturated enough that they feel just as solid as the blade itself. And for some reason… such saturation gave the Type-Two this semi-transparent gold coating appearance that you're seeing now."

The Type Two's translucent gold gives the weapon a majestic appearance as though it belonged to royalty yet it also emits an aura of stone-cold sensation across the surface of the blade. As Gerald brushes his hand across the blade's side, he feels a tremendous chill crawling in his skin up his forelimb; the cold touch of an extremely sharp and potentially lethal buster blade that makes his fingers feel as though they're affected by frostbite. He rubs his fingers against his thumb and leans against the table as his mind shifts from the weapons to another different matter.


"Why did you quit?"

Nothing could've prepared Jinrai for such a random question from Gerald that he abruptly stopped examining the fist-sized pulse-jet to stare at him.

"…Pardon?"

"You were supposed to be part of the IS development team for that unit, weren't you?"

Jinrai scoffs at "that". Nothing else in his chalky past would have been significant enough to be referred simply as that aside from the most prominent Infinite Stratos unit to be fielded by Japan. Yet, it was not in his taste to be part of a special development team which ironically got disbanded after a critical error severely tarnished the prototype IS and the team discarded it in silence, only to have it mysteriously re-appear with the world's first and only male IS pilot as its custodian and pilot.

"Byakushiki… I'll admit, it sounds much better than what the development team would've named it… which is one of the reasons I pulled out."

"I have a feeling that we're almost alike, Jinrai."

"Well… You got pulled out because Hyperion tanked, not for personal reasons. I guess that's where "almost" comes in."

Such a minor difference yet Gerald manage to get a short chuckle out of it. He remembers how bad of a shape the crumbling Hyperion Corporation was prior to his resignation as well having another secondary issue that brought about his premature resignation from the organization. Something smaller, yet more significant than any other reasons he had at that point.

'More likely than you think, Jinrai…'


========== Hachijo Island, Izu Islands Cluster ==========

The head of the mysterious renegade organization attentively watches from the observation platform as darkness engulfs the sky, leaving nothing but distant specks of blinking lights of a plane's wingtips moving across the sky. Even the distant town of Hachijo isn't as lively as the street lights are dim. However, the particular time of the day could not have been more convenient for the head who grins in delight before contacting another part of the base through a console on the platform.

"-Sir?-"

"What is Strike Lance One's status?"

"-Mounted and on standby, sir.-"

"Good, send the package out."

"-Yes sir!-"

The personnel on the comms replied with such ecstatic tone that it made the leader's smile grew even wider as they're now able to unleash their planned operation after a long wait. As he turns back to the view outside, the window fizzles and reveals itself as a hologram screen that was disguised as a mere glass panel. Through the transparent screen, a purple rectangular reticule projects itself upon Mount Taihei on a neighboring island.


Within the massive underground hangar bay that holds legion of Jabber drones, an elevated platform which holds a trio of Jabbers, two of which configured as Strike Jabbers, arises and carries the drones to the electromagnetic catapult deck. The platform seals the opening between the catapult deck and the hangar bay while each of the drone trio steps onto one of the three available launching platforms that are attached to a deck shuttle. The platforms latch onto the Jabbers' feet and the blast doors that concealed the catapult from the surface steadily opens, revealing the hidden underground catapult to the world outside.

The Jabbers hunch forward and hums emit from the shuttles' rail as it builds up electromagnetic charge before releasing the shuttles which pulls the platforms and the Jabbers latched onto them, sending the trio streaking across the catapult deck with an accompanying noise of metal friction between the platforms and the deck. The platform latches purge themselves from the Jabbers feet a split second before the platform hits the end of the deck and the Jabbers belting into the starry night sky.

An interface within each Jabber's head projects the Delta Academy waypoints that were imposed for their sortie; a low-altitude flight path into Tokyo Bay via the Sagami Gulf and the waterway that connects the two areas, the Uraga Channel. With the waypoints set, the Jabbers ignite their respective rocket thrusters and fly towards mainland Japan while keeping as low as possible without skimming the sea surface that would cause splash trails.


Meanwhile back on the observation deck, the hologram screen projects a tracking rectangular reticule on the Jabber trio as they circle around Hachijo Island for a clear path towards the mainland. The renegade organization head on the deck scoffs, his heart solely anticipating any form of news or repercussions that would follow after the Jabbers' sortie towards the IS Academy.

'Tonight, we'll make our existence known to the world. To all users of the Infinite Stratos, be ready… and be very afraid.'


========== Mount Nokogiri, Futtsu, Chiba Prefecture ==========

Freshly-showered and dressed after spending another evening on striking techniques training with his ceiling-suspended, cylindrical training bag, Inami lays on his bed with a hand slid between the pillow and the back of his head while another is holding onto the framed photo of him and Tsurugi. For almost six years they have been separated when he was brought into Praxidike, he's been yearning to see his childhood friend once again, wishing deeply that soon he would have the chance to do so.

'Almost six years already… I missed you so much!'

Despite the photo being taken during their childhood days, it has not shown any signs of age with the photo still clear as crystal. Young Tsurugi's facial features immortalized in the photo, her smooth face and long, silky, chestnut brown hair, none of which attracts his focus more than her glimmering ember eyes.

'And I'm not that far away… I hope you're still in Togane.'

*tiitiiit*

"-Inami, this is Jinrai. If you are there, respond immediately!-"

Jinrai's voice emits from the small radio set on the bedside table, which apparently doubles as an intercom where Inami then places the photo frame on the table. He takes out a single, in-ear monaural headset from the radio-intercom and wears it over his right ear to respond to Jinrai's call.

"I'm here, Jinrai-san."

"-We have inbounds for the Academy, meet us at the planning room stat.-"


Meanwhile, Gerald and Jinrai are in the dark confines of the planning room; a dark, circular room with screens lined along the walls and a main circular screen set under transparent flooring. The main screen shows the satellite overview of the Chiba Prefecture, Tokyo Bay where the Infinite Stratos Academy resides and the neighboring Sagami Gulf outside the Uraga Channel waterway that connects the two bodies of water.

While overview clearly captures all surface islands including portions of the mainland, the wide body of water that separates the mainland from the Izu Islands Cluster does not have any signs or trails that would indicate movement. Gerald and Jinrai however, know that there are suspicious figures traversing across the sea from a previous viewing and they are appalled by their apparent stealth capabilities.

"Rather ironic if you put in the sense that these unknowns are sneaking across an open area…"

"But they're quite clever, traversing at low altitudes mask their appearances from the radar net… but not from an orbital satellite."

The overview zooms in upon Miyake Island, one of the distant offshore islands within the Izu Islands Cluster and projects circular reticules upon three humanoid objects that are circling around the east side of the island. The overview magnifies on the reticules and reveals the humanoid objects to be the Jabber drones with their back rocket thrusters expelling thrusts of flame jets. "What are those?" would have been an apt question but Jinrai realizes Gerald's expression which blatantly spells out "Your guess is as good as mine."

Neither had any idea of the Jabber drones and they notice almost immediately the drastic difference in appearance between them and the Golem, as well as amongst the formation which the two notice additional bulk and bigger thrusters on two of the drones while the leading unit doesn't appear to have anything mounted.

Before either could speak a word, the door to the planning room opens with Inami entering in a jet-black full bodysuit with armored pads on his chest, parts of his limbs and armor plating sections that covers the back of his hands, knuckles and fingers. Gerald and Jinrai are both surprised by his timely presence as he has previously been known to be reporting late due to difficulty in wearing the bodysuit which covers the top of his neck down to his toes.

"Getting used to the suit, I see."

"Somehow, yeah… It's starting to feel much more comfortable now after the previous sortie."

The three gather around the floor screen which shows a dotted path from the Jabber drones that has just passed Miyake Island through the Uraga Channel and into Tokyo Bay, where the dotted path ends with a targeting reticule projected onto the Infinite Stratos Academy. Inami follows the trail down to the trio of Jabber drones, frowning as he recalls his previous sortie against the Golem.

"Those… They don't look like the one that attacked the Academy."

"That spares us part of the briefing of what you're up against. These things are coming low and fast so we'll have to intercept them early, as such we'll need you to intercept them at Tateyama."

The screen projects another dotted path from Mount Nokogiri, where the Praxidike HQ is, down to the city of Tateyama at the southern tip of the Chiba Prefecture. Given its distance from the Uraga Channel, it's the most ideal location that would leave Inami with enough ground to fall back upon.


Soon after, Inami and Jinrai are in the hangar bay preparing for the sortie. The Minerva's armor is being mounted in place upon Inami's bodysuit via an assembly platform. Made out of titanium alloy laced with an underlying layer of flexible carbide composite and electrostatic fibers, the platform's sub-arms lifts the Minerva's armor parts and mounts them onto various parts of his body which they are then secured into place with an automatic pressure sealing system along the gaps on the armor.

From the armored boots on the platform base up to the chest-plate, everything is secured into place and Inami steps off the platform towards another table where the Minerva's helmet rests. Muffled thuds accompany his heavy steps and he reaches for the helmet; a generally-rounded headgear with a cap-like protrusion around its rim, a thin orange visor with an area of black alloy underneath which ends with an armored, beak-like protrusion under the chin. The helmet also sports twin breathers, one on each side of the mouth.

As Inami puts on the helmet, an eye-like pattern briefly glows on the visor to indicate boot-up and despite the apparent shape of the visor, a full panoramic view of his surroundings are projected on a holographic screen inside the helmet.

The screen also projects the Minerva's particle power capacity in numerical points with the maximum of seven-hundred, a mini-map with a regularly pulsating sonar-like wave along with a projected waypoint that directs him to his intended destination and a three-layer, color-coded abstract silhouette which represents different features of the Minerva; the innermost layer is a humanoid silhouette that represents the user's vitals, encasing it is the second layer which is a silhouette of the Minerva that represents its armor integrity and the third, outermost layer is a spherical barrier around the second layer which represents the unit's particle barrier strength. All three layers emit a green glow to indicate that the Minerva's functioning well.

"All systems green, Jinrai-san."

"Great! Get to the catapult, there's not much time."

A huge semi-circle door that separates the hangar bay from the linear catapult deck opens as Inami jogs in. To his surprise, there's a Longboard flight platform sitting at the start of the runway with its nose gear latched to the catapult's shuttle. He hops onto the Longboard, places his feet on both feet platforms which tilts as he rests his knee-guards on the platform and grabs onto a pair of handles that pops up from a concealed panel.

The door behind him closes shut and twin trails of light instantly illuminates the runway as Inami spots Jinrai and Gerald inside a separate, elevated control room.

"-Linear catapult systems green, activating linear voltage.-"

Another pair of blast doors at the opposite end of the runway slides apart, revealing the night sky on the topside while a series of nodes flip up along the linear catapult's sides, immediately creating a path of electromagnetic charges while Inami keeps an eye on the rising linear voltage level on the screen. The voltage level steadily climbs and eventually stops at seventy percent.

"-Timing's on you, Arisawa.-"

Inami inhales deeply, his sights fixated to the end of the catapult and he gives a nod to the two in the catapult control room.

"Send me out, Gerald-san."

"-Slinging.-"

A loud, sharp hum bursts through the hangar as the catapult shuttle instantly races across a rail on the runway, pulling the flight platform along while Inami remains prone and maintains a firm grip on the platform's handles. The catapult shuttle purges the flight platform's nose-gear seconds before it reaches the end of its rail, sending both Inami and the Longboard spearing out from the side of Mount Nokogiri where the linear catapult is hidden within.

The Longboard's sled-gears flip up and its primary verniers at the back expels a dense jet of particle streams, propelling it into the sky while Inami gently lowers one side of the handle grip which steers the flight platform towards the southwest where the city of Tateyama is situated.


========== Sagami Gulf ==========

Passing the eastern side of Oshima Island, the nearest island of the Izu Islands Cluster to mainland Japan, the Jabber formation swerves towards the Uraga Channel according to their projected flight path which passes over the west side of Mount Daisen that's situated due east from the city of Tateyama.

Upon approach, the Jabbers ascend to pass over the mountainside until warning tones and a flashing arrow prompts them to turn left in time to see oncoming Inami hanging from the handles of the Longboard that's flying invert. He swings his feet to the front and releases the handle, sending him into a freefall while planting his feet into the leading Jabber's chest. The two arcs towards Mount Daisen and the two Strike Jabbers immediately give chase to their mysterious attacker.

As the two falls towards mainland, the Jabber grabs Inami's legs and with a quick spin of its body, throws him ahead into the mountainside. He fires the particle pulse-jets at the back of his legs, quickly negating the heavy momentum of the drone's throw but also brings him head-on with the Jabber, which already has its right hand curled into a fist and thrusting directly into the left cheek of the Minerva's helmet.

*WHAM*

"Errf—!"

The force was immense that Inami spins as he hits the mountainside and imprinting a humanoid-shaped crater on the ground, kicking up a cloud of earth and dirt which completely engulfs him. The helmet's hologram screen fizzles briefly from the punch which would've been more than enough to snap his neck if it wasn't for the special fiber-weaved bodysuit which prevents his neck and limbs from being forced beyond his range of motion.

He manages to push himself out of his self-made crater and sees the lone Jabber standing before him, slightly obscured by the dirt cloud which is penetrated by the bright green glow of its eyes.

The cloud immediately clears and the Jabber is now in plain sight… along with two cylindrical missiles diving from above. Inami jumps away and the two missiles slam into the mountainside, erupting into a towering column of inferno while also causing a booming noise and a strong shockwave which knocks him down. He looks over his shoulder, shocked by the firepower of the missiles and he could only imagine the potential destruction it would inflict upon the IS Academy.

*bi-bi* *bi-bi-bi*

Inami rolls aside as bright blue shots from the Jabber hit the ground. He looks up and is surprised to see patches of molten ground where the shots hit.

'Plasma…?'

Realizing the apparent nature of the Jabber's weaponry, he gets on his feet and dashes for the lone drone as it points its tri-barreled arm cannon. It fires a stream of plasma shots towards him but the Minerva's geodesic particle barrier automatically deploys upon impact with every plasma shot, immediately diffusing them into thin air with accompanying hisses of the ionized gas being scrambled apart by the semi-visible micro-particle barrier.

The Jabber swings its left arm towards Inami, deploying an energy beam blade from its forelimb's in-built emitter. He blocks its arm with his right hand and throws his left fist into its right cheek, striking the same spot thrice and halts, allowing the drone to merely turn and face him again before he grabs its left arm, holding it and the energy blade away as he thrusts his left knee into its abdomen with a quick boost from the pulse-jet behind his left leg.

While he's subduing the drone solo, the two Strike Jabbers encircle over them with their respective arm cannons drawn. Warned of the imminent threat via beeping tones and flashing directional arrows on the sides of helmet hologram screen, Inami pulls the Jabber's left arm over his head and pushes it towards the opposite side. He spins to his left and launches a roundhouse kick directly into the drone's back, sending it tumbling further as he jumps away to avoid the plasma barrage from the Strike Jabbers.

As he gets back up, he sees the Strike Jabbers already hovering in the distance, obstructing him from the Jabber which has just recovered from his previous kick. Like the Golem from his previous sortie, he realizes that the sensitive acoustic sensors on bodysuit's palms and fingers did not detect any signals throughout the time where he had a firm grip on the Jabber's arm.

'No pulse… I should've known…'

The drone trio point their arm cannons at Inami as he faces his left shoulder towards them, holding up his left fist ahead and the other across his upper chest as though he's about to engage in hand-to-hand combat. Realizing the true, autonomous nature of the Jabbers, he immediately sheds off concerns of the possibilities of facing a manned unit. Like the Golem before, his mind is set to go all-out aggressively against his new adversaries.


=== [End of Chapter 2] ===